Preaching Pelagianism: Joel Osteen and the Gospel

I’ve tried to be kind to Osteen, but listening to sermons like this one…

…in which Osteen exhorts his parishioners to tap into the inward joy that is inside of them by singing happy songs, “whistling while you work,” etc., without any reference to the Gospel (Jesus’ incarnation, life, death, resurrection, ascension, and present reign according to the Scriptures) or man’s need for the Gospel (i.e. Romans 3:9-18), reveals Osteen’s penchant for rampant Pelagianism and moralism. This junk is NOT the Gospel of Jesus Christ revealed in the Holy Scriptures!

It is highly offensive to me that preachers like Osteen (and there are many!) masquerade under the banner of evangelical, “Bible-believing” Christianity because they do not teach what Jesus taught. Heck, in the “sermon” above Osteen did not even explain the text from Ephesians. These sort of prosperity preachers give Christianity (and Jesus Himself) a bad name, making the glorious Gospel of the King of Kings into a Dr. Phil/Oprah pep talk. And God does not take kindly to teachers who do not tell the whole truth about the Gospel.

For a more detailed analysis of why “sermons” like the one above by Joel Osteen are not Christian, listen to the 14 Oct. 2007 broadcast of the White Horse Inn:


On this program, Michael Horton begins by evaluating the popular message of televangelist Joel Osteen, and then moves to a larger discussion of the true nature of the Christian gospel. In addition to the regular White Horse Inn panelists, Michael also talks with Dr. D.A. Carson about his work with the newly formed Gospel Coalition. (See more free WHI resources related to this broadcast.)

Also, this Sunday (14 Oct. 2007) Joel Osteen will appear on 60 Minutes to answer his critics, one of whom is Dr. Michael Horton. It will be interesting to see whether Osteen will continue to shun all things related to Christian doctrine. I hope not, but we’ll see.

More White Horse Inn Resources on Joel Osteen and Similar “Christian” Teaching

Related Books

The Alternative Gospel of the American Church - by Michael Horton A Cultural History from the Puritans to the Passion of the Christ - by Stephen Nichols

Evangelical Protestantism in the Twentieth Century - by Daryl Hart Truth-lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Postmodern World - by David Wells

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